Chip Ganassi reiterated what Dario Franchitti has been saying in the build-up to the IZOD IndyCar Series championship finale this weekend: "The pressure's not on us."
The onus then, according to the Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner, is on Team Penske's Will Power to perform in the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And it got even more so after Franchitti took pole position for the race, ahead of his teammate Scott Dixon. Power's Team Penske Dallara-Honda will start third. The pole cut Power's lead too 11 points heading into Saturday night's race.
Franchitti has two victories and four other top-five finishes on ovals this season. Power built his points total off five victories on road/street circuits, 29 bonus points for a series-record eight pole starts and race laps led. He has two top-five finishes on ovals, including third place at Twin Ring Motegi two weeks ago.
It's the fifth consecutive year the title has been decided in the final race and the 12th time in the 15 years of the series.
“I think we have an edge," Ganassi said. "Coming into this situation, I think the pressure is off us. It's very hard to do what our competitor has to, which is maintain. While I'd rather not have a point deficit on our side, I like our position better."
His reasoning is partly because the team has won the past two championships (with Franchitti and Dixon), partly because Team Penske has won one championship since moving to the series in 2002 (2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.) and partly because of having a seasoned veteran such as Franchitti.
“It's his been-there, done-that thinking,” Ganassi said of Franchitti, who is aiming for a third IndyCar Series title. “He knows how far he car push his car. His engineer and crew chief are all seasoned individuals in the sport and have won championships. We feel good about our guys. He has all the tools he needs and this would be one more feather in his cap.”
Ganassi, who is Franchitti's race strategist, said the No. 10 team entered the championship-deciding weekend in '09 as the underdog. An alternate fuel strategy during the caution-free 200-lap race led to the race victory and championship.
“This business doesn't mean anything if you're not here to win. We're fortunate to have a great group of people and sponsors to work with. We're in this sport for weekends like this."